Cowichan Valley one of windstorm’s hardest hit areas

All power expected to be restored by Dec. 27

As of the morning of Dec. 27, there were approximately 90 BC Hydro customers still without power in the Cowichan Valley.

Ted Olynyk, a spokesman for BC Hydro, said it was expected that those customers, mostly in the Cobble Hill and Shawnigan Lake areas and some other smaller pockets, would have their power back on by the end of the day.

Overall, approximately 30,000 BC Hydro customers in the Cowichan Valley area lost their power in last week’s windstorm.

“The Cowichan Valley was one of the hardest hit areas in the province,” Olynyk said.

“We had 120 crew members working around-the-clock to restore power on the Island through Christmas, with many field workers coming from all over the province, Alberta and even as far away as New Brunswick to help out. We’re hoping to have everyone who lost power in the province get it back by New Year’s.”

RELATED STORY: POWER OUTAGES STILL PLAGUING COWICHAN

Olynyk said BC Hydro is asking anyone who is still without power to phone 1-800-BC Hydro to assure they are on the list to have their power restored.

“Many just assume someone else has called to report their power outrage, and it’s hard for BC Hydro to determine who is still without power using meter information alone,” he said.

The storm that struck the Island and the Lower Mainland on Dec. 20 was one of the most severe storms BC Hydro has experienced in years, packing winds that gusted to more than 120 kilometres an hour in parts of the Cowichan Valley.

The storm knocked out power to more than 700,000 BC Hydro customers overall, closing businesses and creating havoc on the roads due to downed trees and branches, as well as blacking out traffic lights leading to long delays as drivers had to treat intersections as four-way stops, even on major highways.

Warming centres were established throughout the Valley for those without power soon after the storm abated.

As of the morning of Dec. 27, about 4,000 customers remained without power on Vancouver Island and the southern Gulf Islands.

According to a press release from BC Hydro, due to the extensive damage on many of the southern Gulf Islands, customers there will have their power restored between Dec. 27 and Dec. 31.

RELATED STORY: SALTSPRING ISLAND MAN’S VIDEO SHOWS WINDSTORM’S HARD HIT

“Many of the southern Gulf Islands were the hardest hit areas, and the storm damaged hundreds of power lines, poles, cross-arms and transformers, and left roads completely covered by trees and vegetation,” according to the release.

“BC Hydro is using barges and water taxis to help move materials and more crews to the hardest hit areas. BC Hydro appreciates its customers’ continued patience as it works through repairs. Updated estimates for power restoration are posted as they become available at bchydro.com/outages.”

Several roads in North Cowichan were also closed in the aftermath of the storm and municipal work crews have been working hard to clear the debris and reopen them.

North Cowichan spokeswoman Natasha Horsman said on Thursday that recovery efforts from the storm in the municipality are going well.

“Our work crews are doing everything they can as far as possible to clear and open roads, but they can’t touch power lines that are down so they have to wait for BC Hydro crews to be available to deal with those situations,” she said.

“We’ve been prioritizing these locations with BC Hydro and have been working to complete the clean up from the storm on a day to day basis.”

As of Thursday morning, Saltspring Road in Genoa Bay and Adelaide Street in Crofton were still closed, as well as a few other, smaller roads that the municipality is still confirming.



robert.barron@cowichanvalleycitizen.com

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